Aug 19

A Soldier’s Tale of WWI 7-5.2

In this lesson, students take on the work of a historian by analyzing political cartoons create from the perspective of a local WWI soldier.

Click here to download the full lesson with attached handouts. A Soldier’s Tale of WWI

South Carolina Standards

7-5.2 Explain the outcome and effects of World War I, including the conditions and failures of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles and the effects of major treaties on population movement, the international economy, and shifts in borders. (H, P, G, E)


GS-5.1 Summarize the causes of World War I, including political and economic rivalries,

ethnic and ideological conflicts, and nationalism and propaganda.



  • Students will analyze political cartoons from WWI
  • Students will make inferences about the causes and effects of the Great War from a soldier’s perspective.


Time Required                                                                    Recommended Grade Level

1 class period                                                                          Middle/High


Lesson Materials


Lesson Preparation

  • Use this lesson as an introduction or closure activity as part of your WWI studies.
  • Visit the Douglas G. Ward collection website to search through the sketchbook
  • Print a class set of the images associated with this lesson.
  • Print the political cartoon analysis guide.
  • Read historical background for Douglas G. Ward.


Lesson Procedure

  • Pass out printed images for students as a starter activity.  On a separate sheet of paper, have students write down what they notice about each picture and any questions they may have.
  • Explain to students that political or editorial cartoons are created to express an opinion about a political or media event. Explain to students that there job is to analyze the cartoons to determine what point the artist was making.
  • Give students a brief summary telling about the work of Douglas G. Ward.

(Ward was corporal in the British army during World War I.  He is virtually unknown but he created a collection of drawings during his time in the military.  This sketchbook lets us in on the history of WWI from a soldier’s perspective.  His sketchbook of photographs still exists in its complete form and is available through the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina as a part of the Great War collection.).

  • Project the first of the three images, The Fortune Tellers, and begin the analysis process together with students.  Ask the following questions and gather feedback from students.
    • What did you notice about this picture?  What questions do you have?  Point out the table with the spinner.  Also point out the different topics on the spinner.
    • Is there anything familiar about the picture?  Can you relate any ideas represented to what we’ve learned about WWI?
    • What’s happening in the cartoon?
    • What do you think is the intended audience?
    • What point do you think the cartoonist was trying to make?
    • What do you wonder about?
    • Pass out the political cartoon analysis guide.
    • Direct students to the two final images passed out during the starter activity, Sgt. Bombay and After the War. Allow time for students to analyze the pictures using the analysis guide.
    • Reconvene and review student answers to the following questions.
      • What point do you think the cartoonist was trying to make in the Sgt. Bombay picture?
      • What point do you think the cartoonist was trying to make in After the war?
      • Explain to students that now they will combine their analysis for all three pictures to make inferences about the effect of the war on soldiers. Write student responses to the question, what point do you think the cartoonist was trying to make, on the board.
      • Direct students to re-read each of the responses and look at all three of the pictures as if they are telling a story. Ask:
        • What story is the cartoonist trying to tell or what opinion is he trying to get across?
        • What would you say was the social impact of drafting soldiers to war during WWI?
        • Direct students to draft a summary of their response to the question within at least three paragraphs.  Allow time to write or assign for homework.
        • Reconvene to discuss their ideas.



What would you say was the social impact of drafting soldiers to war during WWI?  Evaluate students on their ability to support their inferences with facts and responses to analysis questions.  Responses should be at least three complete paragraphs.


Lesson Extension Options

  • Have students search through the Ward collection to find one other drawing to analyze and write about.

Digital Collections Information

This lesson plan is based on images and/or documents derived from the Douglas G. Ward collection available from the University of South Carolina’s Digital Collections Library.


To see other collections that may be helpful to your search, visit the Digital Collections homepage or visit SCDL’s collections.